Most natural gas customers in West Virginia should see a reduction in their bills this upcoming heating season, according to the state Public Service Commission.
The gas rates of customers are adjusted annually to account for the cost of gas in a process called a “purchased gas adjustment” proceeding before the PSC. Following an initial review of purchased gas adjustment cases filed recently, the PSC said it’s expecting slightly lower gas utility bills across the state.
According to the PSC, the purchased gas adjustment is an estimate of expected prices utilities will have to pay for gas from their suppliers for the period of Nov. 1 through Oct. 31 of the following year, as well as a “true up” of actual costs for the previous year. The adjustment does not include any profit for the utility.
Natural gas utilities that serve over 91 percent of natural gas customers in the state have filed requests with the PSC to lower the purchased gas portion of their rates. Mountaineer Gas has asked for a decrease of 3.91 percent and Hope Gas/Dominion Energy has requested a decrease of 8.87 percent, according to a news release from the PSC.
Five companies, serving 8.5 percent of residential natural gas customers, have requested an increase in their purchased gas prices due to under-recovery of gas costs in 2018 and, in some cases, projected higher gas prices being charged by their suppliers, the release said.
The PSC does not regulate the price of natural gas.
“That price is determined by competitive markets,” the release stated.
The PSC added that it does examine the gas purchasing practices of gas utilities and ensures the utility satisfies its burden to show that dependable, lower-priced gas supplies are not readily available.
By law, gas utilities are permitted to recover their costs to purchase natural gas.